Oluwatomisin (Tomi) Oyedele, University of Pennsylvania Class of 2022, has demonstrated distinguished service and a strong commitment to improving the educational opportunities and quality of life for students in the West Philadelphia community, as well as for international students at Penn. In spring 2019, Tomi participated in an honors seminar taught by Netter Center for Community Partnerships director Dr. Ira Harkavy, through which she mentored a West Philadelphia student about the college application process and also conducted extensive research that resulted in a proposal to introduce a choral music program into a local high school. She was appointed teaching associate for Dr. Harkavy’s seminar for the following two semesters and a Music and Social Change program leader with the Civic Development Internship Program, through which she expanded her work by assisting with the organization of music programs at three partner schools. Tomi’s dedication to service extends to her peers through her role as a board member of Nigerians at Penn, for which she runs academic and professional development events. Tomi has successfully combined academics and service and is helping others to do the same, exemplifying the goals of the Newman Civic Fellowship: collaborative action, inclusion, and long-term, institutionalized social change.
As an aspiring Nigerian and African educator, who firmly believes that investing in our children can catalyze transformational changes across the continent, most of my civic engagement projects have been education-focused. At Penn, I have worked as an undergraduate mentor in the Junior Jumpstart program, a college access program that aims to help low-income high school juniors prepare for the college application process. I am currently a student leader in the Music and Social Change program, coordinating free after school music programs in schools in West Philadelphia and co-instructing weekly music lessons. During my time with these programs, I have come to understand that our current education system is strongly tilted against low-income, minority children.
On campus, my work as a Teaching Assistant for one of Penn’s Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) courses, which requires me to assist students in tackling problem-solving projects that they find incredibly meaningful, is continuously teaching me how education must evolve to cultivate changemakers. I hope to continue learning about the most challenging issues facing teachers and learners worldwide and play a role in improving access to quality and relevant education across several communities.